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Technology Alliance Launches Youth Apps Challenge

 

SEATTLE – The Technology Alliance officially announced the 2014 Youth Apps Challenge last week, to coincide with the Northwest Council for Computer Education’s annual conference. Teams of Washington middle and high school students are invited to enter the Challenge, a statewide competition designed to build student interest in computer science education and careers.

Twenty-four schools and education organizations across the state are already planning to participate, with more joining every day. As part of the challenge, teams of students will work together to develop apps or app prototypes and submit them by May 16. The apps will be judged by industry experts at two separate competitions, one for students in eastern Washington and one for western Washington. Prizes will be awarded to winning teams in each region, including tablets and a visit to a local technology company to learn more about software development.

“More Washington students should have the opportunity to engage in high-quality computer science learning and build skills that will prepare them for careers in our vibrant technology economy,” said Susannah Malarkey, executive director of the Technology Alliance. “By participating in the Youth Apps Challenge, students learn to be not just consumers of technology, but to be creators. They will learn how to solve real-world problems and have fun in the process.”

The challenge is funded by a federal Recovery Act grant administered through a contract with the Broadband Office at the Washington State Department of Commerce. It is designed to give students hands-on experience in computer science, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Teams must generate an original idea that solves a problem, identify user profiles and market potential, develop a prototype, and pitch their app to an audience. Finalists will be selected to attend an awards ceremony and showcase in their region.

“Some skills you just can’t learn from a textbook, you have to learn by doing it,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “This is an exciting way for students to get creative, be innovative and put their ideas to practical use. I’m very excited to see what these teams can do.”

The Technology Alliance is making curriculum and other resources available to support educators who wish to enable their students to try app development. The featured curriculum was developed by the U.K.-based organization Apps for Good and adapted by the Technology Alliance for use in school, after school, or as part of a summer program. Units on Scratch and App Inventor teach programming concepts to students. The curriculum is aligned with Computer Science Teaching Association standards and the Common Core standards for math.

“It challenges them, it’s fun, and it’s what they need for the future,” said Kent Graham, who teaches students app development at River HomeLink school in Battle Ground.

A number of schools and education organizations across the state have availed themselves of the Apps for Good curriculum to enable their students to compete in the Challenge. In addition to River HomeLink, participants include: Cascade Middle School, Highline; Horse Heaven Hills Middle School and Kennewick High School, Kennewick; Horn of Africa, MMRTI, and Garfield High School, Seattle; Yakama Nation Tribal School, Safe Haven Center and Toppenish Middle School, Toppenish; West Hills STEM Academy, Bremerton; Stevens & Ochoa Middle Schools, Pasco; Grandview Middle School, Grandview; Granger Middle School, Granger; Sacajawea and Glover Middle Schools and North Central High School, Spokane; Sierra Vista Middle School, Sunnyside; Omak Middle School, Omak; Wapato Middle School, Wapato; Walla Walla High School, Walla Walla; Lakewood Computer Clubhouse, Lakewood; and YWCA, Olympia.

Teams will be able to submit their entries beginning May 1. Educators can learn more about the Youth Apps Challenge and how to offer the apps curriculum at their school or organization by contacting Karen Manuel, STEM Outreach Project Director, at karen@technology-alliance.com or 206-389-7243.

For more information, visit www.technology-alliance.com/

 

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